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Magnum Research 9mm Baby Desert Eagle Steel-Framed Pistol


The Baby Desert Eagle (Don’t worry, fellas…the word “baby” does not appear on the gun itself!) is a modified version of the excellent CZ 75 family of handguns that was designed in—you guessed it—1975. The original version of the CZ 75 was a double-action/single-action pistol which also had the ability to be carried “cocked and locked” like a 1911 .45 automatic. There was no decocker lever, just a manual safety in the same position as that of the 1911. This is why the late Colonel Jeff Cooper chose the CZ 75 as the platform for his 10mm Bren Ten pistol. While the Bren Ten was an economic failure, the 10mm cartridge and CZ-based pistols are still offered by various manufacturers to this day.

While the Baby Desert Eagle (BDE) is not offered in 10mm and is not capable of being carried cocked and locked, it retains many other important features of original CZ 75.

All-Steel Firearm Construction

The first such feature is all-steel construction. The BDE’s steel slide and receiver are black-oxide-coated instead of being blued like the original. While there is a polymer-framed version of the BDE available, there is something comforting about the weight of an all-steel handgun, and I prefer the steel version of the BDE over the polymer one for that reason. Also like the original CZ design, the slide of the BDE rests inside the frame, rather than outside, and thus the sides of pistol are perfectly flat, making it distinctive in appearance. Weight of the BDE is 38 ounces and barrel length is 4.43 inches.

Manual 1911-Style Safety

The BDE departs from the original CZ 75 in that it does not use a manual 1911-style safety, meaning that you can’t safely carry the BDE cocked and locked. Instead, it features a Beretta-92-style decocker/safety lever located in the same location as that of the Beretta 92 series of pistols and which operates in the exact same fashion: Lever up is safety off, lever down is safety on. A red and white dot mark both positions, respectively. A great advantage of this system, which shooters often overlook, is that loading and charging a pistol with this safety system is extremely safe.

To charge an empty BDE with utmost safety, place the safety lever in the down—safety on—position with the slide back or forward. Insert a loaded magazine. If the slide is back, push down on the prominent and easily reached slide release lever to run the slide forward. If the slide is already forward, pull it back fully to the rear and let it go. In either case, the safety will automatically decock the BDE so you aren’t holding it with a cocked hammer and a trigger that only takes 5 pounds of pressure to release. Instead, you end up with the trigger in the double-action mode with a 12-pound trigger pull for the first shot. After the pistol is charged, push the lever up and you are ready to go. Use the safety lever/decocker in a similar fashion to safety unload the BDE. It is a great setup.

Firearm Grip

The grip on the CZ 75 is legendary for a great ergonomic feel and will accommodate a wide variety of hand sizes without having to resort to various backstrap inserts to fine tune adjustment. The rear of the grip frame features raised square “checkering” that ensures a good grip despite having wet hands. The polymer grip panels feature the Magnum Research eagle logo. The frontstrap is grooved with vertical lines to assist with the grip as well.

Rail for Mounting

At the front end of the BDE, there is a built-in rail for mounting weapons lights, laser sights, or a combination of both. The sights are standard 3-dot, with a fixed Novak-style rear sight. The front of the triggerguard is “old school” squared, and the trigger itself is nicely curved and very comfortable. The triggerguard is undercut to accommodate the middle finger of the shooting hand. The magazine release is a standard push button. The 15 round magazines—the BDE comes with two—are blued steel with an orange plastic follower. The magazines eject quite easily.

Testing the Gun at the Shooting Range

I went to the range with two loads of SIG Elite Performance ammunition to conduct the shooting test—their 115-grain FMJ practice load with a stated muzzle velocity of 1185 feet per second and 359 FPE, and their 124-grain V-Crown hollow-point defensive load with a stated muzzle velocity of 1165 feet per second and 374 FPE. I didn’t bother chronographing the loads, as I’ve found all of SIG’s ammo to register very closely to the published ballistics on the chronograph.

This is a great shooting pistol. The long first shot DA trigger pull didn’t hamper accuracy in any regard. The grip frame felt great in my hand and is one of the finest combat pistol grips I have ever felt. The weight of the BDE made between-shot recovery quick, and I have no doubt that the BDE would easily tame the recoil of the more stout .40 S&W round for which it is also chambered.

Functioning was flawless right from the box. Fist-size groups at 30 feet were easily accomplished. Backing off to 100 yards, I managed to put six out of six of the 124-grain V-Crown loads on the OPOTC silhouette target from the two-handed standing position.

Conclusions on the Magnum Research Baby Desert Eagle

While the full-size, steel-frame Magnum Research Baby Desert Eagle may be a bit heavy for some folks for concealed carry, it is right in the weight range of the 1911—so the potential is there for a belt-type holster or carry pack. It would make a great home defense piece. If the full-size version is a bit too much, the BDE is also available in Semi-Compact and Compact formats in both steel and polymer.

If you’re tired of the endless array of polymer-framed guns (not that there is anything wrong with them), consider the Baby Desert Eagle. MSRP is $646. Learn more at

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